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IRS impersonation phone scams, as well as phishing continue to be a serious threat to taxpayers topping the list of the IRS "Dirty Dozen" tax schemes once again.

The IRS impersonation phone scam has claimed nearly 3,000 victims who have collectively paid over $14 million, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration recently warned.

Phishing email scams continue to be pervasive as well. Illegal scams such as these can lead to significant penalties and interest and possible criminal prosecution. IRS Criminal Investigation works closely with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to shutdown scams and prosecute the criminals behind them.

Both IRS impersonation phone scams and phishing are on the list of the annual IRS list of "Dirty Dozen" tax schemes. Compiled annually, the "Dirty Dozen" lists a variety of common scams that taxpayers may encounter anytime but many of these schemes peak during filing season as people prepare their returns or find people to help with their taxes.

Taxpayers should keep the following in mind:

The IRS usually first contacts people by mail--not by phone--about unpaid taxes.

The IRS won't ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer.

The IRS also won't ask for a credit card number over the phone.

The IRS will never threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

How to Protect Yourself

Don't be fooled. These con artists can sound convincing when they call and they may know a lot about you.

"These criminals try to scare and shock you into providing personal financial information on the spot while you are off guard," Koskinen said. "Don't be taken in and don't engage these people over the phone."

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here's what you should do:If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.

If you know you don't owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the TIGTA at 1-800-366-4484 or at www.TIGTA.gov.

If you've been targeted by this scam, also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their "FTC Complaint Assistant" at FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.

If you receive an unsolicited email that appears to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), report it by sending it to phishing@irs.gov.

If you think you've been a victim of an IRS impersonation phone scam or phishing don't hesitate to call.